Amid Anti-Muslim Backlash, Wisconsin Students Call for Compassion

By: Tina Shaffer

In the weeks following the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, advocacy groups say that the death threats and violence against American Muslims, as well as vandalism of mosques, have surged.

Amid the growing anti-Muslim sentiment, a Destination Imagination team from Germantown, Wisconsin is working to combat this issue as part of their Destination Imagination Project Outreach Challenge—an educational Challenge that encourages students to work together to address a real issue in their community and beyond. 

The Destination Imagination team, whose members include Caitlin Fera, Haley Schwind, Christy Staniak and Sarah Nasif, say they were motivated to take on this initiative after attending a football game. “I went to a Green Bay Packers game and we were taking a moment of silence for the attacks in Paris when someone screamed an anti-Muslim remark,” said 11-year-old team member Caitlin Fera. “After that, I knew we needed to put a stop to that.”

To learn more about Islam and Muslim culture, the girls set up a meeting with a group of Muslim peers at the Masjid Al-Noor mosque in Brookfield, Wisconsin. “We really wanted to hear what life was like from their perspective and find out how they are treated by others,” said team member Haley Schwind.

Image credit: Michael McLoone

From the Quran to fasting to dating, the Destination Imagination team members asked about a variety of topics to learn more about them, their religion and their culture. The team also walked away with an important life lesson.

“No matter what religion or race, we aren’t all that different,” Schwind said.

The girls’ Team Managers, Susan Nasif and Patty Fera, are also huge supporters of their Destination Imagination project this season. “The team has decided to take on a very serious and relevant subject matter, said Susan Nasif. “Watching them dedicate so many hours researching, networking, and planning to achieve their goals is truly an inspiration. I couldn’t be more proud of these young leaders and the work they are doing.”

The team, called Pillars of D.I., will showcase their project in March at a local Destination Imagination tournament.

If you’re a parent or educator interested in starting a Destination Imagination team, you can contact our headquarters at [email protected] or by phone at 1-888-321-1503. Team registration for the current Destination Imagination season closes at the end of January.